Women's BIG EAST Basketball

UConn Women Look To Repeat Dominance In Big East

UConn Women Look To Repeat Dominance In Big East

Here's a glimpse of the 2021 BIG EAST Women's basketball conference: the returners, the freshmen, and the transfers.

Nov 2, 2021 by Antonio Williams
UConn Women Look To Repeat Dominance In Big East

Back like they never left, UConn dominated the Big East last season, sporting a perfect 18-0 record in conference play, after ending their seven-year hiatus in the American Athletic Conference. The undefeated conference mark propelled the Huskies into their seemingly annual, deep NCAA Tournament run, as UConn secured their 13th consecutive Final Four appearance last season.

UConn Women's Basketball

Though the G.O.A.T., Diana Taurasi, has not walked through that proverbial door for UConn in 17 years, Huskies’ Head Coach, Geno Auriemma, will have another All-Everything guard in unanimous 2021-22 Preseason All-American, Paige Bueckers. 

As a freshman last season, Bueckers posted 20 points per game, while also providing almost 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game, on her way to making history by becoming the only freshman to ever win AP Player of the Year, Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, USWBA Player of the Year Award, and the Lieberman Award, in addition to her Big East Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors. The improved health resulting from ankle surgery last spring, along with the confidence that develops from a Final Four run, should propel Bueckers to dominate even more this upcoming season on the hardwood as well as on TikTok. 

This UConn squad has substantial star power and depth beyond Bueckers, which also places UConn as the pack leader in the Big East and firmly in the national title picture. In addition to Bueckers, UConn returns yet another All Big East First Team performer in Christyn Williams. Williams packs a scoring punch, averaging 16 points a game, ranking 2nd on the team. Projected WNBA No. 1 round pick, Evina Westbrook, placed a battery in the back of UConn’s title hopes when she decided to return to Storrs for her redshirt senior season. Westbrook has a great deal of versatility, providing defense, rebounding, and playmaking, which complements her scoring ability. 

As if the Huskies needed more reinforcements, UConn also returns the reigning Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year in forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa. In addition to anchoring the defense with her shot-blocking abilities, Nelson-Ododa also functioned as UConn’s 3rd leading scorer last season. Count Aaliyah Edwards as another piece to the Huskies’ title puzzle, as she scored almost 11 points per game, while coming off the bench. She joined Bueckers on last season’s Big East All-Freshman Team. 

But Wait There’s More

Hold your breath for this earth-shattering and astute observation; “You have to assemble elite-level talent if you have aspirations of playing in 13 consecutive Final Fours.” The UConn coaching staff has done it again, with yet another Top 2 recruiting class, led by guard Azzi Fudd, the No. 1 player in the 2021 class. The Huskies 2021 recruiting class also features the No. 5 player in Caroline Ducharme, the No. 15 player in Amari DeBerry, and the No. 30 player in Saylor Poffenbarger. 

DePaul Women's Basketball

The Blue Demons have their own legendary coach in Doug Bruno walking the sidelines in Chicago. Guard play will power DePaul as they return their dynamic backcourt duo and All-Big East First Team performers in Lexi Held and Sonya Morris, two of the top scorers in the conference last season. The Blue Demons also return Big East All-Freshman Team guard, Darrione Rogers. The trio of Held, Morris, and Rogers combined for 45.4 points per game., which accounted for a tad over 57 percent of DePaul's scoring last season. The Blue Demons also added former Drake point guard Kierra Collier as a transfer. 

Butler Women's Basketball

The Bulldogs will rely heavily on the scoring ability and experience of guard Genesis Parker. After ranking 2nd on the team in scoring last season, Parker will have to carry the load as Butler looks to replace their leading scorer from a year ago, Okako Adika, after she transferred to TCU. Butler will also look for help from the transfer portal as the Bulldogs will depend on guard Kendall Wingler to help ease the scoring burden on Parker. Celena Taborn, another transfer, should provide an interior presence on both ends of the floor. 

Creighton Women's Basketball

Sophomore forward Emma Ronsiek, with her ability to function as an inside-outside threat, will power the Blue Jays’ scoring attack. Ronsiek, a Big East All-Freshman team player last season, led the team in field goal percentage (.470) and rebounding (5.1 rpg.), while also ranking 2nd in scoring at 11.6 points per game. Creighton will also look for continued contributions from guard Tatum Rembao and versatile forward Morgan Mally.

Georgetown Women's Basketball

The Hoyas will rely on some “old, new” additions, as they look to surprise this season and ascend in the Big East. Georgetown featured the conference’s top rim protector in forward Anita Kelava for the 2019-20 season. The Hoyas sorely missed her 1.8 bpg. and will welcome those deflections back with open arms. 

Georgetown may have scored the biggest addition to their rebuilding efforts when all-time leading scorer and best player in program history, Sugar Rodgers, after accomplishing great feats in the WNBA (WNBA Championship, All Star appearance, WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year), left her assistant coaching position with the Las Vegas Aces and returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach. The Hoyas also have leading scorer and Big East All-Freshman Team guard Kelsey Ransom returning for her sophomore season. 

Marquette Women's Basketball

Will the Golden Eagles finally clear the hurdle and deliver a Big East Championship to Milwaukee? After advancing to a fifth straight conference championship game last season, Marquette hopes to finally grab the gold this year. The Golden Eagles will lean heavily on 2021-22 Preseason All-Big East First Team forward Lauren Van Kleunen, the team’s 2nd leading scorer last season at 13.2 points per game. Marquette lost forward Camryn Taylor to the transfer portal and in efforts to replenish, added two Big Ten transfers in guard Karissa McLaughlin (Purdue) and Kennedi Myles (Illinois). McLaughlin has connected on more threes than any player in Purdue Women’s Basketball history (244) and Marquette certainly hopes that her outside shooting and playmaking abilities will mesh well with the frontline presence of Van Kleunen. Myles led Illinois in rebounding, steals, and blocks last season. Myles has some scoring ability as well, providing Marquette with an experienced, productive player in the paint.  

Providence Women's Basketball

The Friars must work to incorporate eight newcomers into the fold for the 2021-22 season. Providence will need to depend on forward Mary Baskerville to help expedite the process as she led the Friars in scoring (12.7 points per game), rebounding (6.5), and blocks (1.8). If senior forward Alyssa Geary continues to improve, Geary and Baskerville could develop into a formidable tandem of experienced bigs that will alleviate some of the growing pains that accompany efforts to establish chemistry with some many new players on the roster. 

Seton Hall Women's Basketball

Seton Hall returns three of their top four scorers from last season’s squad, including top scoring threats in 2020-21 Big East Most Improved Player Lauren Parker-Lane and Andra Espinoza-Hunter, both recognized by the conference as Preseason First Team All Big East selections. The Pirates lost their leader in rebounds, block shots as well as their 2nd leader scorer when Desiree Elmore elected to transfer to Rhode Island. Guard Mya Jackson (10.6 points per game) will have to assume more of the scoring load, while forward Alexia Allesch will have to provide more of a traditional paint presence, through scoring and rebounding to replace the nine boards a game and interior presence that Elmore provided, even though Elmore did this from the backcourt. 

St. John's Women's Basketball

The Red Storm feature one of the most lethal scorers in the league in unanimous Preseason All Big East First Team guard Leilani Correa. Correa averaged 17.6 points per game, which placed her in the Top 5 in the conference in scoring, while also leading her team in rebounding and steals. In efforts to help Correa and improve as a team, St. John’s went to the State of Indiana to get their “two Danielles,” in transfers Danielle Cosgrove (Notre Dame) and Danielle Patterson (Indiana). Both should provide The Red Storm with size and shooting ability, which should ease the burden on Correa. 

Villanova Women's Basketball

Unanimous Preseason All Big East First team selection forward Maddy Siegrist may very well have garnered Big East Freshman of the Year if Paige Bueckers and UConn did not play in the conference. Siegrist enjoyed an extraordinary inaugural season for the Wildcats, leading the Big East in scoring (22.8 points per game). She also led her team in three-point shooting accuracy last year, connecting on 36.4 percent of her attempts from the land of three. More than a scorer, Siegrist also led Villanova in rebounding (9.8 rpg) and ranked 2nd on the team in blocks (1.1). To take the next step in Big East play, forward Brianna Herlihy will have to continue to grow in her role as the 2nd scorer for the Wildcats. Sophomore forward Lior Garzon will also play a prominent role for Villanova this season. 

Xavier Women's Basketball

The Musketeers hope to avoid the stoppages in play induced by COVID that negatively impacted their 2020-21 season. Xavier will look to their guards to help elevate the team, as they return their 2nd and 3rd leading scorers from last season in guard Nia Clark (11.5 points per game) and Kae Satterfield (9.2 points per game), respectively.  The Musketeers also added JUCO All-American guard Shaila Beeler and forward Kaybriana Hallman, a Top 50 recruit in the Class of 2021.